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Mitchell: Plagiarizing Mrs. Obama is height of hypocrisy

Shalira Taylor, 35, a marketing and promotions entrepreneur and Trump delegate from Ohio, said she thinks the Melania Trump's speechwriters intentionally borrowed from Michelle Obama's speech to stir controversy. | Mary Mitchell/Sun-Times

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CLEVELAND — If speechwriters stole portions of first lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech for the speech delivered by Melania Trump on Monday night, it’s a despicable act even for a political campaign that has been marked by rude behavior.

Trump has spent his campaign mocking the Obamas and showing an unprecedented level of disrespect for the Obama presidency.

So why in the world would Mrs. Trump even be in a position to be accused of “coincidentally” using the same words to express sentiments for her husband that Michelle Obama used during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Why isn’t Melania Trump being accused of cribbing a Laura or Barbara Bush speech?

Why not a Nancy Reagan speech?

Had the words of any of these Republican first ladies been ripped off, at least it would make sense.

OPINION

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Early Tuesday, campaign manager Paul Manafort told CNN that it would be “crazy” to think Mrs. Trump would crib Mrs. Obama’s speech.

But by late afternoon, the campaign was in damage control.

I spoke with Dr. Ben Carson before his scheduled convention speech Tuesday night, and Trump’s former opponent gave the campaign the benefit of the doubt.

“If it is not verbatim, the subject matter is relatively common and it would not be unusual for people to use a similar language. [W]hat we should be doing is celebrating the fact that Democrats and Republicans hold in high esteem the same principles,” he said.

Frankly, the best explanation for the similarities between the two speeches came from a Trump delegate from Ohio.

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I ran into Shalira Taylor, 35, a marketing and promotions entrepreneur, outside the Quicken Loans Arena.

“I thought it was funny,” she said, with a mischievous grin.

“I think they were sitting around and said ‘Why not? Let’s do it.’ I can see him doing something like that and seeing if people catch it and having people talk about it. I do marketing and promotions, and I would say most definitely it was intentional. They sat down and they thought about that,” she said.

Maybe there are other speeches by the out-going first lady that Mrs. Trump would like to consider.

In a speech to grads at the City College of New York last month, Mrs. Obama told the class, “In America, we don’t give in to our fears. We don’t build up walls,” a swipe at Trump, Time Magazine reported.

If plagiarizing Mrs. Obama’s words is somebody’s idea of a political stunt, it isn’t funny. It is the height of hypocrisy.

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